The Suc­cess Story of Sheng Maobai

盛宁斋主捡漏记

Special Focus - - Contents - Liu Yis­han 刘益善

Sheng Maobai, the owner of the Shengn­ing Store, is an old friend of mine. He has ex­pe­ri­enced vi­cis­si­tudes of all kinds through­out his life; he spent five years in prison and after be­ing re­ha­bil­i­tated, he re­turned to his for­mer work­place. In the early 1990s, Sheng Maobai re­tired early from his pre­vi­ous em­ploy­ment in Daye County, Huang­shi, a city in Cen­tral China’s Hubei Prov­ince, and then came to Wuhan, the cap­i­tal city of Hubei, where he opened up the Shengn­ing Store, a small paint­ing and cal­lig­ra­phy shop. His business was en­gaged in col­lect­ing and sell­ing paint­ings, which re­quired the unique abil­ity of col­lect­ing the right items and sell­ing them at the right price. I was a fre­quent vis­i­tor to his shop. Once, after a full meal, I had the plea­sure of hear­ing some of his sto­ries about col­lect­ing paint­ings. I have in­cluded a few of my fa­vorites below.

A Wooden Scroll Paint­ing One morn­ing when he was walk­ing to the flea mar­ket near Yin­tong, some­one be­hind him called out, “Ex­cuse me!” He with­drew to the roadside to give way, and a junkman with a ragged load on his shoul­ders passed by. As he brushed past, Sheng Maobai was poked by a hard ob­ject. When he looked closer, he found a wooden scroll paint­ing ly­ing in the man’s ragged bas­ket.

He hastily stopped the junkman, say­ing he wanted to have a look at the scroll.

The junkman set down his load on the roadside and said, “This is to be de­liv­ered to the waste col­lec­tion sta­tion. Have a quick look and see what you want.”

Sheng Maobai opened the scroll and rec­og­nized Zhao He­chou’s paint­ing of wis­te­ria and star­lings on a full six- chi (about 6.6 foot) pa­per scroll. The pic­ture was vivid and vi­brant with burst­ing old vines, thou­sands of flow­ers in sub­tly dif­fer­ent shades of pur­ple, and more than ten strik­ing star­lings on it.

Zhao He­chou was born in Huang­gang, Hubei Prov­ince, next to Huang­shi. In his early years he had learned from Xu Bei­hong in Beip­ing Art Col­lege. After a lit­tle bar­gain­ing, Sheng Maobai bought the scroll for 30 yuan. Since he only had a 50-yuan bill with him, he gave it all to the junkman, who was over­joyed since he’d only spent 5 yuan on buy­ing the scroll and had now sold it for ten times that. Sheng Maobai also gave him a business card, telling the man

盛宁斋主盛茂柏是我多年的朋友。他命运多舛,坐了5年牢,后来平了反,回到原单位。上世纪90年代初,盛茂柏从黄石大冶的工作单位提前退休,到武汉来,开了一家不大的书画店,取名盛宁斋。开画店就是收画卖画,其高明处在于你会收会卖。我是盛宁斋的常客,一次酒足饭饱之后,他给我们讲了他收画时捡漏的故事。 木质画轴

一天早上,他步行去附近的银通旧货市场。突然,身后传来“让一下”的声音,待避到巷边,一个挑着破烂担子的拾荒者随声而到。擦身而过的瞬间,盛茂柏被一件硬物杵了一下。他定睛一看,破烂担子中歪躺着一根木质画轴。

他忙喊住拾荒者,让那人把担 子停下,他要看看这卷画。

拾荒者把担子停在路边,说: “这是要送到废品收购站的,你看看,要还是不要,抓紧时间。”

盛茂柏打开那轴画,认得是赵合俦的六尺整纸紫藤八哥大中堂。画上腾跃的老藤、万朵浓淡深浅紫花和十余只八哥,营造出一片勃勃生机。

赵合俦是湖北黄冈人,早年肄业于北平艺专的徐悲鸿门下。经过简单讨价还价之后,盛茂柏 30 元人民币买下了这轴画。因随身只带 了一张 50元的钞票,他全部给了拾荒者。5块钱买的东西,一下子翻了十倍,拾荒者接过钱,感激不尽。盛茂柏给他一张名片,让拾荒者收到画后先卖给他。

这是盛茂柏到武汉投身书画收藏业后,捡到的第一件珍品。

有天傍晚,盛茂柏正和家人围桌吃晚饭,拾荒者打来电话,说他在老城区拆迁的地方,收到十多幅旧书画,有人追着他买,他不肯,一定要先给盛茂柏看了再说。

盛茂柏不敢怠慢,放下饭碗,急急忙忙地赶到拾荒者住的地方。看完那十多幅书画后,兴奋地对拾荒者说:“谢谢你的守信和对我的关照。这幅郭沫若的字、吕凤子的画,还有这四幅小名家的画、五副进士的对联,都是真迹。”

盛茂柏给拾荒者交了底,拾荒者听了,喃喃自语:“难怪那个人愿出五万块钱。”

盛茂柏问:“我把这批书画买下,你出个价吧。”

拾荒者说:“别人出五万我不卖,你给五万拿去吧。”

盛茂柏给了他六万块钱,成交。 红酸枝木箱子 一个夏天的傍晚,吃过晚饭,

天色尚早,盛茂柏从武昌租住的地方去不远处的武泰闸旧家具市场,想去淘个木箱子装书画。他进出了几家店,都未看中。正当他不抱什么希望,准备回家时,在西头最末一家店里发现了一只四角包着镂花铜片、铺首上横着一把老式旧锁的大木箱。细看之 后确定,这木箱是红酸枝木做的,实属保存得比较好的晚清家具。

见他在打量木箱,店主踱了过来,热情地笑着说,这箱子的用料全是红木,要价一万块。

盛茂柏没有搭话。为了防止箱底有滥竽充数的杂木,他要店主把 箱子打开看看。店主打开锁,揭开箱盖,里面满是横七竖八的卷轴,残破不堪,霉气扑鼻。店主怕砸了生意,慌忙向他解释没清理的原因。

盛茂柏顺手拣了一卷展开,仅看题款,就认定是任伯年的真迹。他不敢再去打开其他卷轴了,顺手将任伯年的卷轴放回箱中。他抑制 住心跳,苦苦还价,谁知店主一分不让。

就在盛茂柏准备接受店主的要价时,冷不丁传来个女人的声音: “算了,就给八千八吧。”

原来是老板娘,盛茂柏最终八千元把木箱买到手。

盛茂柏从木箱中,清点出二十多幅字画,幅幅同一上款,都是真迹。这些字画使他大赚一笔,购置了一套三室一厅的商品房,一家人结束了租客的生活。 我也赚了

这天早上,盛茂柏从家里出来,走进小巷不久,被堆垒的杂物堵住。一年轻女子连连向过往行人致歉: “对不起,一会儿就来车拖走。”

盛茂柏正想从杂物旁侧身挤过去时,看到一个旧衣柜,小橱柜门上的玻璃破了,里面镶的是一幅国画。那熟悉的笔触,那使用花青的独到风格,无一不在自报家门:这是张肇铭先生的手泽。

盛茂柏双眼一亮,提出要买这幅画。不想,画主人赞他慧眼识宝,不愿谈钱,只愿相赠。他坚持无功不受禄,非要送点东西给物主作为交换。物主属虎,得知盛茂柏是个画家后,便请盛茂柏画了五只虎。

一周后,盛茂柏将一幅八尺水墨虎画,按物主所留地址送去。物主看了盛茂柏画的五只虎,赞不绝口地说:“五虎五福,好,好。我一张破画换了你这么大一幅新画,我赚了。”盛茂柏说:“我也赚了。” (摘自《黄河文学》2018 年第 3 期)

赵合俦画作 Paint­ing by Zhao He­chou (1902-1982, tra­di­tional Chi­nese painter)

郭沫若及其书法作品 Guo Moruo (1892-1978, Chi­nese author, poet, his­to­rian, and ar­chae­ol­o­gist) and his cal­lig­ra­phy

任伯年画作 Paint­ing by Ren Bo­nian (1840-1896, painter born in Zhe­jiang Prov­ince, noted for his bold brush­strokes and use of color)

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